Australia pledged to support Sri Lanka fend off its worsening dengue outbreak. Australia will donate a huge sum of money to the World Health Organization to help create short-term and long-term programs in hopes to solve the crisis.
A total of $377,000 will be handed out by Australia to WHO to create immediate, short-term dengue prevention programs, ABC reports. Reuters reports that the short-term programs planned aims to lessen dengue spread by more than 50 percent. The program aims to achieve this within one and a half months.
Long-term programs involving the use of Wolbachia bacteria, similar to the ones used to control dengue and Zika viruses in countries such as Australia, Brazil and Columbia, will also be implemented to completely remove dengue spread from Sri Lanka. Under the $795,000-worth research program, Australia’s Monash University and Sri Lanka’s Health Ministry will try to use Wolbachia to prevent dengue from infecting people.
According to WHO, the outbreak can be attributed to a combination of heavy monsoon rains and poor waste management. WHO is currently trying to help control the outbreak by supporting Sri Lanka’s Ministry of Health in their operations. Here’s some of the public health response as listed by WHO:
- Support from the military forces has been requested by the MoH to increase the number of beds as the health care facilities are overwhelmed. Three temporary wards in a hospital 38km north of Colombo have now been completed.
- The MoH launched an emergency response including vector control activities that is also supported by the mobilization of defense forces. The army, police and civil defense forces have been mobilized to conduct house-to-house visits in the high-risk areas with health staff. In addition, they are involved in mobilizing the community for garbage disposal, cleaning of vector breeding sites, and in health education.
- The WHO Sri Lanka country office has purchased 50 fogging machines to support vector control activities.
As of this year, nearly 100,000 Sri Lanka residents were infected with dengue. Meanwhile, a total of 250 people already died due to the disease.
Dengue has long been a problem in Sri Lanka. The Health Ministry, as per ABC, states that 97 people died due to dengue last year. Meanwhile, 55,150 were infected with dengue. This makes the number of infections in 2017 to be 38 percent higher than last year’s. Due to the number of people infected, some hospitals have ran out of beds to accommodate patients.